Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Insurgency, Governance, & Legitimacy in Somalia: A Reassessment of Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen, its Rhetoric & Divisions

I have a new post at Al-Wasat, a collaborative blog that I am a contributor to. It was started and is run by two colleagues, Andrew Lebovich, a research associate at the New America Foundation, and Aaron Zelin, a research assistant in political science at Brandeis University. My post is entitled, "Insurgency, Governance, & Legitimacy in Somalia: A Reassessment of Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen, its Rhetoric & Divisions." It examines the Somali insurgent group's recruitment, domestic programs and attempts at governance, and its religious-nationalist and transnational militant rhetoric.

The introduction reads:

On November 22 the media wing of the Somali insurgent group Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen (Movement of Warrior-Youth) released its newest video, Message to the Ummah (worldwide Muslim community): And Inspire the Believers, the underlying message of which is to attract new recruits from both inside and outside the Somali diaspora to come and join the group’s insurgency against the weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG). The video, which includes parts in Arabic, English, Swedish, Urdu, Swahili, and Somali is subtitled in English and, equally significantly, Swahili, the lingua franca of East Africa. The group’s media wing, the Al-Kata’ib (Brigades) News Channel, continues to produce a steady stream of highly polished and well-produced propaganda films, as it has done since September of last year. I have written in the past about the evolution of Harakat al-Shabab’s media wing in a guest article posted on Informed Comment. The new video’s intro screens clearly state its purpose: “An Invitation to the Lands of Jihad and Ribat…Clarify your banner, convert it into action, convey the message, and inspire the believers.” Ribat in this usage carries the meaning of guarding or protecting Muslim lands (Somalia) from non-Muslim aggressors (the African Union military force protecting the “apostate” TFG, which relies heavily on external support from the African Union, the United States, and the United Nations for support. The video includes a lot of interesting footage, including a segment with the Qa’qa, the Kenyan “martyred” during an ambush on Ethiopian military forces then occupying Somalia in an operation featured in the March 2009 Harakat al-Shabab video Ambush at Bardale, which was most notable for featuring the American Harakat al-Shabab commander Omar “Abu Mansur al-Amriki” Hammami for the first time without his face covered.

Read the rest of the piece HERE.

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